Rolling Stone Australia


Future Is Now: Stella Donnelly


Future Is Now: Stella Donnelly

For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.

SOUNDS LIKE: Gorgeous lo-fi songs with a lyrical bite that flaws

FOR FANS OF: Courtney Barnett's no-fuss storytelling, Julien Baker, Angel Olsen

WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: When Perth singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly released her debut EP, Thrush Metal, earlier this year via Melbourne indie label Healthy Tapes, the expectation was that they'd sell 30 cassettes online and then, she says, "I could move on with my life and maybe write some more music". Only it didn't quite go that way – Thrush Metal has shifted more than 300 tapes and counting. Then at this year's Bigsound, where Donnelly performed two of the festival's most talked-about sets, she was awarded the $25,000 Levi's Music Prize.

At 25, Donnelly is something of a veteran on the Perth scene, playing in bands such as Bells Rapids and BOAT SHOW, as well as with acts such as Angus Dawson and Teischa. For years, though, she's quietly honed her solo set, inspired by the everyday lyricism of Billy Bragg, Courtney Barnett and Catatonia's Cerys Matthews. Musically the five songs on her debut EP veer from the downbeat Nineties-esque "Mechanical Bull" to the sweet whimsical pop of "Mean To Me". Linking it all together is Donnelly's lo-fi approach, and her honest, sometimes devastating lyrics. While live her in-between song banter is such that Donnelly refers to her shows as "half-comedy", in contrast a song such as "Boys Will Be Boys" addresses the sexual assault of a friend with such astonishing power that Donnelly precedes the song with a content warning. Its opening stanza, "My friend told me of a secret/Told me that she blames herself/You invaded her magnificence/Put your hand over her mouth", packs a breathtaking punch. Donnelly will record her debut album in November.

SHE SAYS: "It was a hard process writing that song," Donnelly says of "Boys Will Be Boys". "And it's still quite hard to sing. That shit's hard to talk about, but it has to be spoken about. Dads and daughters and sons need to hear this stuff. There's no excuse anymore."

HEAR FOR YOURSELF: "Boys Will Be Boys" showcases Donnelly's lyrical and vocal power; "Mean To Me" her vocal dexterity.


Topics: Stella Donnelly   Future Is Now


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